About 4 years ago, I made the transition from working full-time outside of the home to working full-time from home. During those first few months working from home, one of the most difficult things for me to grasp was setting my own self-imposed deadlines.
I was used to the school and business world where there were always plenty of professors, coaches, and bosses telling me (and constantly reminding me) what I had to do and when I had to do it. I always had deadlines (and I loved deadlines) — but for the most part, those deadlines were set for me by someone else.
I knew there would be consequences if I didn’t meet those deadlines… so I met them!
However, once I was my own boss I had to work really REALLY hard to stay motivated, push forward, and continue setting goals and deadlines for myself.
It’s not that I was irresponsible or lazy; not at all. I just wasn’t in the habit of setting my own deadlines — and it was much easier to say “I’ll do it later” or “I’ll do it when I have more time” (and we all know there is no such thing as “when I have more time”). Those projects just kept getting put off and put off.
It was definitely a bit of a learning curve, but after some time, I began to get the hang of self-imposed deadlines… and the rest is history! Nowadays, I set deadlines for almost everything (even small household projects) because I know how much more productive I am when I have a deadline looming in the near future.
In my personal experience, self-imposed deadlines are one of the key reasons I’m able to do everything I do and still have time left over for fun. Plus, as you’ll read below, self-imposed deadlines eliminate SO much stress from my life!
Last year, I shared how I organize my weekly blog posts, and while I don’t always write all my blog posts on Friday, I DO almost always finish my blog posts for the week ahead by the previous Saturday night. This might mean that I do a little writing each night after Nora is sleeping, or it might mean that I spend a big chunk of my Saturday writing posts — either way, they are finished by Saturday night and I don’t have to worry or stress about quickly finishing my posts late the night before.
I write a variety of posts for different blogs, websites, and print publications each month. And since I don’t have the time to write them all in one week, I give myself deadlines to finish one or two guest posts each week. The posts might not actually be due for several weeks, but by setting self-imposed deadlines I’m able to finish all these extra posts without feeling stressed or staying up all night. Plus, I usually have extra time left over to proof read them a few days later (with fresh eyes).
Most of the tasks I do for my Virtual Assistant clients do not need to be completed on a specific day; however, they DO need to be finished by the end of the week. So to make sure I don’t have a ton of work waiting for me on Saturday night, I do certain tasks every Tuesday, other tasks on Wednesday, etc. etc. By using self-imposed deadlines, I’m able to space out the work and have a better routine to my days and weeks.
These self-imposed deadlines also transfer over into my personal life too. For example…
Nora’s ABC book:
A few weeks ago, I shared Nora’s personalized alphabet book — and I mentioned that I gave myself the self-imposed deadline of March 31. If I didn’t make the time to finish the book before that date, then I would remove it from my to-do list and wait until summer (or whenever) to take on the project.
Even with smaller tasks like meal-planning and grocery shopping, self-imposed deadlines help me get more done. I always give myself the “deadline” of Sunday night to finish my meal planning and make my grocery list. Then I plan to get groceries on Monday when the store shelves are still stocked.
I’ve already mentioned that I don’t have a specific cleaning routine, but I DO have general tasks that I try to do each day, each week and each month — just so I don’t get too far behind on things. Yes, there are days when I REALLY don’t feel like doing a load of laundry or cleaning the bathroom, but I try to remind myself that it will only take a few minutes and then I’m done… and I don’t have to think about it again for a while.
None of these systems are perfect, and of course, there are times when I don’t follow through on my good intentions (shhh… don’t tell!). But for the most part, my self-imposed deadlines really help me to stay organized and simplify my busy schedule.
Some of you might be thinking that self-imposed deadlines sound like a lot of work or like I’m working all the time. However, it’s exactly the opposite. Yes, it took a bit of time to figure out the right “system” but by setting self-imposed deadlines, I actually work faster, work less, and have MORE time to do fun stuff!
What self-imposed deadlines do you use to stay motivated and on-task?